Juni Shinsho, the 12 protective deities (十二神将)
Juni Shinsho (the 12 protective deities) are tenbu, deities who reside in a heavenly realm, one of six realms in which the souls of living beings transmigrate from one to another; they are worshiped and shaped into statues in Buddhism, and are good deities that guard Buddhism. They are also called Juni Yashataisho or Juni Shinmyoo and comprise 12 war gods who guard people who believe in the Yakushi-nyorai and Yakushi-kyo sutra.
It is said that the Juni Shinsho guard each 12 hours of the day and night in accordance with the 12 wishes of Yakushi-nyorai. For this reason the zodiac is applied.
Each protective deity heads each of 7,000 attendants, covering a total of 84,000 Yasha, i.e., a class of semi-divine being usually considered to be of a benevolent and inoffensive disposition but sometimes also classified together with malignant spirits. Above their heads are often placed signs modeled after the animals of the zodiac. In Japan the life-size statue of Juni Shinsho at Shin-Yakushi-ji Temple in Nara is the oldest, and it is famous for its excellence of form.
Additionally, the Juni Shinsho have each principal image of Buddha such as Buddha, Bosatsu and Myoo. Each name and its corresponding principal image of Buddha and the zodiac follows (although there are a few differences in the letters and sounds, depending on the sutras, but the following names are commonly used).
Although the 12 deities' belongings and poses are not necessarily unified, it is nearly impossible to distinguish them only by characters depicted in pictures and statues. In China the statue of Juni Shinsho had been produced in early times, and there is an example of wall painting in Dunhuang City. In China they have been worshiped in association with the zodiac, and many works in Japan also depict animals of the zodiac above their heads.
In Japan many statues such as the statue of Shin-Yakushi-ji Temple in Nara (eighth century) in the Nara period have been produced. In many cases, at the Buddhist halls where Yakushi-nyorai is placed as the principle image of Buddha, each of six deities is placed on the left and right side of Yakushi-nyorai, or in a line ahead of the Buddhist altar. There are various ways of expression; in one case they are placed around a circular Buddhist altar such as the statues of Shin-Yakushi-ji Temple, and in another case they form a halo or a foundation of the statue of Yakushi-nyorai.
They are shown as war gods, the same as the statues of the Shitenno (four guardian kings), and in many works each of twelve characters is distinguished by its facial expression or pose, and they vary widely as a group.
Major works of Juni Shinsho in Japan
The statue of Shin-Yakushi-ji Temple (Nara City, Nara Prefecture) - statue, Nara period; 11 bodies among 12 bodies are national treasures
The statue of Kofuku-ji Temple Tokondo (Eastern Golden Hall) (Nara City, Nara Prefecture) - wooden statue, Kamakura period
The statue of Kofuku-ji Temple (Nara City, Nara Prefecture) a wooden print block, Heian period
The statue of Koryu-ji Temple (Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture) - wooden statue, Heian period
The statue of Horyu-ji Temple Saien-do (Ikaruga-cho, Ikoma-gun, Nara Prefecture) - wooden statue, Kamakura and Momoyama periods
The statue of Ryosen-ji Temple (Nara City, Nara Prefecture) - wooden statue, Kamakura period
The statue of Eizan-ji Temple (Gojo City, Nara Prefecture) - wooden statue, Muromachi period
The statue of Murou-ji Temple (Uda City, Nara Prefecture) - wooden statue, Kamakura period
The statue of Todai-ji Temple (Nara City, Nara Prefecture) - wooden statue, Heian period
The statue of Hokkai-ji Temple (Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture) - wooden statue, Kamakura period
The statue of To-ji Temple (Kyoogokoku-ji Temple)(Kyoto city, Kyoto Prefecture) - wooden statue (attached on the foundation of the main image of Buddha at Kondo), Momoyama period
The statue of Keisoku-ji Temple (Kinomoto-cho, Ika-gun, Shiga Prefecture) - mokushin kanshitsu-zukuri, wood-core dry lacquer, currently only three bodies in existence; Heian period
The statue of Yukino-ji Temple (Ryuo-ji Temple) (Ryuo-cho, Gamo-gun, Shiga Prefecture) - wooden statue, Kamakura period
The statue of Jomyo-ji Temple (Arida City, Wakayama Prefecture) - Kamakura period
The statue of Tosan-ji Temple (Awaji City, Hyogo Prefecture) - wooden statue, Kamakura period
The statue of Ikaruga-dera Temple (Taishi-cho, Ibo-gun, Hyogo Prefecture) - wooden statue, Kamakura period
The statue of Sekkei-ji Temple (Kochi City, Kochi Prefecture) - wooden statue, Kamakura period
Juni Tensho in Onmyo-do, the way of yin and yang
Additionally, as opposed to the above Buddhist scriptures, Juni Tensho, which is used in Rikujinshinka, one of the mantic or shikisen in Onmyo-do, is sometimes incorrectly called Juni Shinsyo.
In 'Junisho Shoshuhodaiyon,' the fourth chapter of Senjiryakketsu, written by ABE no Seimei, a famous master of Onmyo-do, things that Juni Tensyo reveal are explained as follows:
前一螣蛇火神 家在巳 主驚恐怖畏 凶将
Toda or Tosya: serpent, tei (丁), fire (yin), summer, southeast
前二朱雀火神 家在午 主口舌懸官 凶将
Suzaku: horse, hei (丙), fire (yang), summer, south
前三六合木神 家在卯 主陰私和合 吉将
Rikugo: hare, otsu (乙), wood (yin), spring, east
前四勾陣土神 家在辰 主戦闘諍訟 凶将
Kochin: dragon, bo (戊), earth (yang), canicular days, southeast
前五青龍 (四神)木神 家在寅 主銭財慶賀 吉将
Seiryu: tiger, ko (甲), wood (yang), spring, northeast
天一（天乙）貴人上神 家在丑 主福徳之神 吉将大无成
Kijin: ox, ki (己), earth (yin), canicular days, northeast
後一天后水神 家在亥 主後宮婦女 吉将
Tenko: wild boar, ki (癸), water (yin), winter, northwest
後一天后水神 家在亥 主後宮婦女 吉将
Daion or Taiin: cock, shin (辛), metal (yin), fall, west
後三玄武水神 家在子 主亡遺盗賊 凶将
Genbu: mouse, jin (壬), water (yang), winter, north
後四大裳土神 家在未 主冠帯衣服 吉将
Taimo or Taijo: sheep, ki (己), earth (yin), canicular days, southwest
後五白虎金神 家在申 主疾病喪 凶将
Byakko: monkey, ko (庚), metal (yang), fall, southwest
後六天空土神 家在戌 主欺殆不信 凶将
Tenku: dog, bo (戊), earth (yang), canicular days, northwest
Reference for names: "Nihon Onmyodo-shi Sosetsu"